Nonetheless, I am going to tackle this challenge. In my article, I will provide you with a bunch of methods that will be able to help you protect your car paint from bike racks. Furthermore, I will go over all types of racks and the many possible scenarios you can encounter.
Understanding the Contact Points and Risk Levels
A vehicle’s paint should only be at risk at the points where the rack (and bikes, in many cases) make contact with the vehicle, but the point at which they do so varies depending on the type of rack you have.
As you know, there are some car racks that rest on top of your car, some that are tucked behind the car – you get the idea. Let’s first discuss which of them requires the most safety measures.
Safety Measures in the context of Hitch-Mount Bike Racks
Probably the safest way to mount your rack is to mount it through the hitch receiver on the back of your vehicle since there is no direct contact between the rack and the hitch receiver and, therefore, there is no direct contact between the rack and the vehicle itself.
The bikes, however, can still harm a vehicle’s finish if they are not handled properly — the bikes can have the final say on that beautiful paint job if you do not handle them properly. Whenever you turn or accelerate suddenly, the bikes may sway too much if the racks aren’t mounted well enough to prevent them from coming into contact with the car.
In addition to driving in reverse, it is also possible to get into trouble if you hit something at the back of the car, as hitting the car essentially means hitting the paint of the car as well.
In terms of truck-mounted bike racks, there are a number of safety measures to be taken
The reason behind that is quite straightforward – the mounting mechanism of these products makes them prone to damage, which is the main cause of damage caused by bike racks. The reason for that is that the mounting mechanism these products use makes them prone to damage.
Unlike hitch racks that are attached to the back of your car with screws, these racks are attached to your car with straps, thus creating a direct contact point between the rack’s body and your car.
As you can see, it seems only natural for these racks to cause us more trouble. Sure, most of these racks do have some padding to minimize the possibility of damage, but there is only so much you can do (especially on a budget).
It is ironic, however, that many of these paddings end up leaving smudges on the surface of the table.
It’s not uncommon for the straps of the rack to rub against the car’s paint and scratch it up, and the front wheels of the bikes to hit the back of the car as a result of a failure to properly secure them to the rack, which results in a scuffing up of the paint.
These racks are notorious for being notorious for malfunctioning due to the fact that there are many direct contact points between the rack and the vehicle.
Safety in Case of Roof-Mount Racks
Last but not least, there is the final mainstream category of car racks, which are roof racks. These racks are somewhere between hitch racks and trunk racks, and while they aren’t quite as mischievous as trunk racks, they can still make a statement.
As a result of the mounting mechanism of roof racks, it is likely to cause problems with the paint on the roof of a car. In addition, the damages are not always limited only to a few scuffs.
Many accidents have occurred that occurred as a result of drivers driving through low-ceiling garages and tunnels (or at least trying to do so).
In most cases, these products use crossbars or rails to mount on the top of vehicles, whereas in a few cases, suction cups are used as a way to hold the bike. As you can imagine, neither the bike nor the rack came back in one piece.
In addition to this, since fork-mount roof racks have a better mounting mechanism, they are a bit safer than upright roof racks, which are more likely to have mischief up their sleeve.
Having discussed a variety of types of racks and how they can pose different levels of threat to the paint on your car, let’s move on to what we can do in order to minimize the likelihood of such an occurrence occurring.
What is the best way to protect your car’s paint from bike racks?
In the same way that there are specific steps for protecting car paint from bike racks, there are also ways that can be applied to everything. We will now take a look at both of these methods.
1. Choosing the Right Racks and Being Mindful
For some, it might be too late, but you should start worrying about the brand of racks that you choose. For example, trunk racks have different qualities. A cheap one will not have the necessary padding to keep things safe, which makes matters worse for them.
It is for this reason that I suggest avoiding trunk racks unless you need excellent portability or are restricted by a budget. However, if you do own one, you should remain mindful since many accidents are caused by the driver forgetting the rack in the back.
There is a similar problem that often arises with hitch racks. Since they take up most of the space in the back, it’s very easy for something to hit the racks without the driver being aware. Therefore, even if this sounds like a non-shit Sherlock tip, it can turn out to be a real game changer.
There are also roof racks that come in various quality levels, and the mounting process can also vary greatly based on their manufacturer. Furthermore, roof racks can be risky if you park your car inside a garage every day, as there is also a chance of hitting your bicycle.
It is important to understand that these are inherent drawbacks that come with these racks. It is important to choose the least risky one that is appropriate to your uses and requirements.
2. Installing the Racks Correctly
It is possible that one of the biggest factors causing car paint to see the gates of hell is poor installation of the racks. Most of these racks rely on the driver to ensure proper setup, especially if you are using a trunk rack.
As a result, if the straps end up being too loose and allow for more movement, you’re gonna have trouble, as the straps themselves will scuff things up every time the car moves abruptly, as well as giving the bikes more room to move. It actually hurts the bikes even more, so it produces a worse result.
If possible, please take a look at the user’s manual for your rack. Racks can be somewhat tricky to set up, and that’s when the user’s manual can be very helpful. In addition to doing everything you can to ensure proper installation, please use the user’s manual if necessary.
As soon as you are done with the installation process, you should always double-check everything to ensure that nothing will move out of place during transport. This includes both the bikes as well as the racks.
3. Making sure that things are locked into place
In addition to this, it is important to make sure that things are locked in place to ensure that the paint on the car is protected. There are many racks that come with some sort of double-checking like straps or locks that work alongside the typical installation process.
It is important to understand that manufacturers resort to various methods based on the kind of rack they offer. And even if your rack does not have any of these options, straps or bungee cords can be used to fulfill your exact requirements. These can stop the front wheels from moving or keep the frame in place.
In this case, you could easily get a few for a few dollars, so it’s definitely worth it. You will need to look at the problem areas where the most movement occurs, and then use them accordingly. I don’t recommend using rope, as that causes too much hassle for little savings.
In addition to anti-sway add-ons, there are also anti-sway add-ons available on the market, which can work really well to minimize movements during transport, especially when carrying multiple bikes at one time.
It is important to note that some racks come with anti-sway cradles, while others do not. Regardless, they are useful tools to have.
4. The importance of keeping the surface clean on a regular basis
The importance of this point cannot be overstated. Imagine a surface covered in sand that you rub back and forth with another material. That is what happens to the car when you install the rack without first cleaning the surface.
As you can imagine, this is particularly true when it comes to trunk racks, but since hitch racks do not come in direct contact with the arms, they are less likely to cause this issue.
In addition to trunk racks, roof racks can also cause this problem if you tend to remove them and reinstall them a lot. However, since the majority of people do not take off and reinstall roof racks, trunk racks are the biggest culprits since most people keep their roof racks in place.
This problem can be treated in a variety of ways. In the first place, you can just use a good-old spray cleaner and wipe it off. However, you will have to do this often, which can be very tedious.
5. Keeping Your Car Protected by Layering It with Some Protective Layers
You can also use clear tapes or painter’s tapes when it comes to keeping the surface of the car rack with a protective coating. You simply need to place the tape on the contact point, and it will do its job of protecting the surface. One can even use dedicated scratch protectors for car racks that are designed specifically for this purpose.
I would recommend you use these protectors as they pad the contact points and do not leave any adhesive residue or permanent marks over the surface. You might have to spend a bit more if you go this route, but the only thing that matters is whether you are grinding sand onto the surface.
6. Keep in mind that there are weight limits that should not be exceeded
Every bike rack has a weight capacity – the budget ones being the worst at this. The racks gradually become unstable once the weight capacity is exceeded. Initially, it might not seem like a big deal, but if you start pushing it to its limits, it can have a major impact.
The more you exceed the recommended weight limit of the racks, the more you’ll notice that they start to sway. And swaying is not good for your paint, since that movement causes friction between the rack and your car’s body.
Because of this, it is imperative that you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t go over the safe limit for your rack. While single-bike racks don’t typically face this problem, mounting multiple bikes is where the problem begins.
7. Be Careful When Mounting The Vehicle
It is possible to mount and unmount bikes on many racks in a specific way, which can be tricky, requiring a specific method for mounting or unmounting the bike. For example, getting an upright rack up and mounting the bike can be quite challenging and can cause the bike to get scratched.
The rack may require you to follow some specific instructions during the mounting process. If this is the case, it is of utmost importance that you refer to the manufacturer’s manual before beginning any mounting process.
It’s not uncommon for trunk racks (I know!) to move when you’re trying to mount a bike on them. Obviously, we want to avoid that friction at all cost.
There is also a possibility of scratching the paint of the bike against the pedal. To avoid it, you can turn them away from the danger area, which should suffice to avoid scratches.
There are also a number of users who prefer the use of Velcro to keep the pedals and wheels from moving at all, so that can also be an option. Just loop a few pieces around the parts to prevent them from moving.
8. It is also important to pay attention to the straps.
A thing to keep in mind is that an older strap will not perform as well as a brand new one. As a result, even if the new rack seemed to have an excellent fit, you may discover that over time, it has deteriorated.
The severity of the issue will determine whether you need to adjust the straps, or if new straps need to be installed. Regardless, keep an eye on this, especially since the straps are the only thing keeping trunk racks in place.
I would also suggest taking the racks off every time you go through a car wash or other similar activity. Keeping them on could have a negative effect on the car as well as the racks. It might even cause the racks’ fit to loosen, which would increase the risk of movement.
It is important for people to remember the following things:
There isn’t much more to say about these tips. However, there are a few things I’d recommend you take note of in order to be successful.
- To begin with, it would be a shame to spend money on a sub-par rack. A rack with a bad design and padding is not going to stop ruining the paint no matter how hard you try. So, it might be time to say goodbye to this rack.
- Additionally, trunk racks are always going to be the riskiest options when it comes to protecting your car’s paint compared to hitch racks, so if you regularly travel with your bike and want it to remain pristine, you should opt for a hitch rack instead.
- Finally, it is very possible that the things you are using to prevent movement end up ruining your car’s paint. Straps constantly rubbing against dirty surfaces are almost certain to ruin the paint. The same goes for bungee cords and barrier straps. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that your saviors should not lead to your demise.
- As a vehicle owner, it is important to ensure that your vehicle’s spoiler won’t cause any problems with your bike rack, as many spoilers are not compatible with certain bike racks, which can lead to problems when using them.
At the end of the day, here are my two cents
When it comes to transporting bikes with ease, bike racks are a blessing for us. However, it must be pointed out that this can’t always be said for our cars. We have witnessed so many massacres on the paint of our cars, all due to the use of these racks.
You should be able to follow these instructions in order to learn how to properly protect the paint on your car from bike racks without causing any complications. Finally, keep in mind that prevention is better than cure in this case.